“It’s not easy being green” to coin a song title by Kermit the Frog. I’ve discovered over time that it’s much like eating an elephant, which can only happen one bite at a time. If I stop to think about all the things I don’t do, I will lose hope and wonder what the point is. In this way being green is not much different from being Christian. Maya Angelou once said, “I’m always amazed when people walk up to me and say, ‘I’m a Christian.’ I think, ‘Already? You already got it?’ I’m working at it, which means that I try to be as kind and fair and generous and respectful and courteous to every human being.”
The same is true for being green. As Christians we’re accountable to God as stewards of this planet. In this way, we cannot separate being green from being Christian. Practicing both takes time and patience.
That’s why I’ve learned to love having systems in place. Systems are important when one is trying to be green. How many times have I gotten to the supermarket and realized that I forgot my reusable bag? Now I have a system. The minute I unload my bags, I hang them from the handle of the door that leads to my car. That way they are sure to make it back into the car.
Years ago I decided to stop buying paper towels and napkins and began buying cotton and linen napkins at thrift stores. I save the pretty ones for company, use the less pretty ones for everyday use and when they get old they become cleaning rags. That’s a system. By the way, once you get used to using cloth on your mouth and in your hands, you will never look back.
I have a friend of 24 years. A few years ago, she committed to picking up trash on the beach. I admire her perseverance. I suggested she needs a system of carrying trash so she didn’t have to stop when her hands were full. Since then, I’ve seen people with bags attached to their waists on the beach so they could do just that.
But my latest commitment is much harder-And that is to resist buying single use plastic. It’s not until you try this that you become aware of just how much of it there is. According to National Geographic- Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world. Plastics often contain additives making them stronger, more flexible, and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, with some estimates ranging to at least 400 years to break down.
The most difficult part of this new practice of mine is when I fail. From time to time I give in because I think I have no choice. But rather than giving up because I’ve failed once, it’s better to focus on the success and to keep going. It’s not easy being green, but it’s part of our responsibility as Christians to try, to practice and to create systems that support us in our good intentions.